This week I reached out for a big 'un — the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger — from America’s No. 3 burger flipper, Wendy’s, with 6,600 restaurants coast-to-coast, top and bottom.
The bigwigs at Wendy’s asked themselves, “What will our burgers look like in 10 or 20 years?” That led to a “come to Dave Thomas” meeting at Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. They were all there, the varsity, JV, and taxi squad: culinary experts, commercialization team, quality control, marketing, operators, bean counters, and suppliers.
They gathered in Wendy’s “innovation kitchen” with one goal: to create the ultimate burger that could be reproduced by the millions in Wendy’s restaurants — that will meet the challenge of upper-scale Smashburger and Five Guys, and blow drive-thru rivals McDonald’s and Burger King out of the water. They think they’ve got it.
Here’s the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger breakdown: a quarter-pound beef patty, smoky Portobello mushrooms, mushroom aioli, crispy fried onions, Asiago cheese, and Applewood smoked bacon on a toasted “bakery bun.”
Total calories: 760. Fat grams: 49. Sodium: 1,310 mg. Carbs: 46 g. Dietary fiber: 4 g. Protein: 36 g. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $4.99.
There’s also a Smoky Mushroom Bacon Fries version, same toppings and stuff, for $2.99.
The Smoky Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger is Wendy’s at its best — obsessed with fresh ingredients, and reaching for new, foodie-pleasing burger fixins. Wendy’s slices small Portobello mushrooms, sautées and roasts them, then sprinkles on smoky seasoning.
Three slices of Applewood smoked bacon add more smoky flavor. The breaded onion tangles deliver the salty and crunchy. The creamy mushroom aioli is something completely different.
As always, Wendy’s beef patty is fresh, never frozen. That works big time for me. Wendy’s has been doing fresh for years, McDonald’s has it penciled in for next year.
So there you have it, Wendy’s Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger just may be as good as it gets in the drive-thru. It’s big and so is the price — $4.99. But with so many ingredients spilling and squirtin’, the price is easier to handle than the burger.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know in the comments, or on Twitter.